There are many different views of the NCAA these days.
Supporters view the NCAA as the last bastion of hope for amateurism in college athletics — the organization trying to stave off the corrosive influence money will have on the current system.
On the other side, at best, opponents of the NCAA view it as the crooked regime atop college athletics. At worst, it is seen as the head of a multi-billion dollar cartel.
Regardless of where you may fall on the spectrum of NCAA love/hate, the organization is under attack right now and its long-term prospects are — for perhaps the first time in decades — beginning to come in doubt. The NCAA now earns over 912 million dollars per year, a figure that continues to grow and continues to call a lot of the organization’s claims about amateurism and the dangers of money pervading college athletics into question.
As TV contracts swell, entire networks devoted to college sports pop up and revenues continue to grow, the fact almost everybody is making a killing off of college athletics continues to raise the question that the NCAA fears most:
In a time when the profits coming in from college athletics continue to rise and rise, when do the athletes that are laboring to provide such a lucrative product going to see their share?
But that question, in itself, is too broad. Too polarizing. And thus far the NCAA has been able to largely avoid its discussion by providing its party-lines about amateurism, competitive balance and fear that pay-for-play would reduce viewer interest and thus make the entire enterprise less profitable.
Those days may be over though. In the past months the NCAA has come under attack on a number of different fronts and the conversation that the organization has been unwilling to have is beginning to play out in ways that the NCAA can no longer control.
Let’s take a look at the five biggest threats to the NCAA’s existence: